Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Movie Review--Valkyrie

I thought this movie was done very well. This was a tough project, I'm sure. Obviously subjects such as: Nazi Germany, Hitler's regime, concentration camps, etc. are very touchy, but I feel that Valkyrie was done tastefully. Brian Singer directed this film, so if I'm in any position to thumb rate it, I'll personally give Singer two thumbs up, and hooray to the writers for tackling such a difficult topic.

I'm glad to see that at least part of the movie was shot in Germany. Though a newbie fan of filming locations, I still believe that a certain amount of authenticity is derived from accurate locations (disclaimer: a good chunk of it was filmed it California too--surprise, surprise).

I'll admit that I haven't done any research into the subjct matter--a coup of Nazi officials and other insiders led by a Colonel von Stauffenberg (played by Tom Cruise in the movie) formed in an attempt to assassinate Hitler and overthrow Nazi Germany. I'm sure the moviemakers took some liberties with this project, as is often the case with "historical" films. Still, I don't believe that the writing was by any means over the top. I thought the acting was spot-on, and the pacing was perfect. Never before have I seen a movie that kept my attention so well as Valkyrie.

I'm big into action/thriller. Still, I can admit that many of the movies I've seen before (including a certain unnamed trilogy also starring Tom Cruise that I'm sure most of you are aware of) consist of decent acting, but HORRIBLY contrived writing. Contrary to that type of movie, Valkyrie was believable.

There was a romance aspect, but it wasn't overdone. I hate romance movies, so I'm quite sensitive to anything that even borders syrup or mush. I found neither here.

As I said earlier, the plot moved at the perfect pace. I wasn't bored at all. In fact, I found myself focusing completely on the movie--no checking the time on my glow-in-the-dark watch, no time spent worrying about things on my To Do List, just pure, unadulterated movie-watching. And that's going some for me--my mind likes to wander around and ramble.

Moving on: I wasn't confused. I appreciate that you don't have to be a scholar of WWII or German history to understand this film (unlike some other WWII movies I've seen).

Your blood will boil a little during this movie, though not as much as it will during Changeling. The focus of Valkyrie was progress, rather than sheer anger. This movie, I feel, gives a message of hope.

That being said, there wasn't a "happy" ending, I'm afraid. It was bittersweet to know that these men (because the movie was based on real people and their real actions) put together a really gutsy plan and sacrified all because their loyalties were to humanity, not to a political party.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008

After spending much of Christmas day rushing around to get things ready for my grandma's party in the evening, my family and I arrived at her house a few minutes early so I could put the finishing touches on my cheesy potato soup*. It was good to see my cousin DPC, recently returning from skydiving in Atlanta (he actually showed us a video of his jump--very cool). Shortly thereafter, my cousin DRC and her husband, CRC showed up. DRC complimented me on my outfit (this was the first year I'd ever really dressed up for Christmas--guess I was feeling festive).

Later, my cousin, DAC and her fiance, JSW arrived. They came from McAllen, Texas for the holidays. This was the first time I'd met JSW. I'm sure he was in shock after meeting DAC's family on her mom's side (the family is huge--her mother has several sisters, who in turn have children and grandchildren), and then being thrust into celebrations with our side of the family. Somehow he seemed a little intimidated by meeting all the new people. I can't say that I blame him. It was very nice to meet my future cousin-in-law--I just hope the family didn't make him nervous with our little tics and eccentricities that make us all so lovable.

After supper, we did our gift exchange. Typically, the grandkids (the three DC's and I) play elves and hand out the gifts. This year, DPC held off, and CRC decided to take his place. This always makes for a confusing mess of people stumbling over each other in my grandma's cramped garage, but this year, I contributed to the madness by worrying that my precious shawl might fall off and get trampled in the process. We also had some confusion about the gifts. JSW has the same first name as my dad, so no one was ever totally sure that both men were receiving the correct gifts. On a stage, this evening would probably have been best classified as a farce. Unfortunately, this was real life, not theatre.

There were 13 in attendance at this year's Christmas party. For several years, we have prolonged the unwrapping ceremony by taking turns opening one gift at a time. To make matters worse, DPC, my dad, and I all tend to "pass" occasionally, if we see that others have more gifts than we do. This way, we won't be sitting in boredom, round after round, waiting for the thing to end. Instead, we will be sitting in boredom for one round at a time, and anticipating what our next gift will be. It's actually pretty fun.

We didn't do the all-out wrapping paper fight this year, but my uncle, LEC did make several "baskets" with his wadded up paper in the trash can. JSW apparently received the correct gifts, and everyone seemed holly-jolly. So much so that I didn't even realize that the festivities lasted an entire FOUR HOURS!

All in all, it was an enjoyable Christmas. I didn't really get the post-Christmas letdown that I've had in years gone by. Instead, I've been enjoying my gifts (and leftovers) and trying to make the best of winter.

*Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe (sorta)

I generally start boiling an unmeasured amount of water while peeling and cubing and unmeasured number of potatoes (Basically, just however many I need to make a good-looking amount). For a large batch, I add 2-3 vegetable bouillon cubes; for a small batch I just add one. Then I boil the potatoes in the broth until tender. At this point, I turn the heat down and add condensed cream of celery soup (2 cans for a large batch; 1 for the small), and Velveeta cheese (entire loaf for large batch; half loaf for small). I melt these together and voila! Soup's on!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Green!

Here are two green photos. Sorry I couldn't post more, but this is a busy day. I experimented with my new tripod when taking these ornament shots.

This is a green bell ornament.

This is a beaded angel that my grandmother made.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Bookish Meme

I learned of this meme from BJ and decided to give it a go. So, without further ado, I give you, the book meme...

Name a book you have read more than once.
To Kill a Mockingbird

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?
The Grapes of Wrath

How do you choose a book? (by cover design and summary? recommendations? reviews? etc.)
Generally, I like to try for novels that have hit the MLA's top 100 novels of the 20th century, or other books written by authors who've made the list (mainly Steinbeck and Faulkner)

Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
Interesting question... I write nonfiction, and I love David Sedaris' work, but I generally read those MLA top 100 novels...

What's more important in a novel, beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Wow that's a toughie... I wouldn't say the plot of The Grapes of Wrath is exactly gripping, yet the writing isn't the most beautiful, either. I'd say I like how the book makes me feel and what types of social commentary the author is making in writing it. But I digress. I'm on The Maltese Falcon right now, so I'd go with plot, I guess.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)?
I'd say Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye. When I was a GA I taught this book to a group of very bright freshman, and I really enjoyed it.

Which book(s) can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
Don't have a nightstand, but the books that are nearest my bed are The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett), The Unvanquished (William Faulkner), The Hamlet (William Faulkner), and The Apple Tree (BJ Roan).

What was the last book you've read, and when was it?
Sanctuary by William Faulkner. I finished it about a week ago.

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Yes. I tried to read The Catcher in the Rye in high school on my own time, and I just couldn't get into it. However, in college, I loved it. A similar thing happened to me with The Sound and the Fury.

P.S. I received a comment saying that I should tag people to do this meme. I completely forgot about doing that. Since BJ left it open to anyone who would like to participate, I'll do the same. Just let me know if you do because I'd love to read everyone else's posts for this meme!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings, Pay It Forward and Sixth Photo Meme

I'm a little "late," as it were, returning these tags I've agreed to participate in. How appropriate that the Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is late. I'll take it!

Part I: Pay It Forward

Below are photos of my Pay It Forward gift from BJ. I actually received it on Monday, but hadn't gotten around to taking photos of it until today. Sorry for the delay! Somehow I got wrapped up in Monochrome Monday and True Colours Thursday and didn't get this posted earlier. Plus, Mom needs me to help her with her own blog stuff. Well, enough excuses from me ;)

This is the box that my lovely gift came in.

This is the card that accompanied my gift.

This is the gift itself!

And finally, this is the gift and card together. I hope that I'm displaying it correctly. The stand was separate, and as I found no assembly directions, I just tried my best to make it look nice!

Anyway, copied from BJ's blog, these are the rules of Pay It Forward if anyone would like to participate:

"The exchange focuses on doing an act of kindness without expecting anything in return other than that the recipient will, in their turn, pass the kindness along and 'pay it forward' in their own way. This is how it works...

I am going to agree to send something fun, inspiring or uplifting to the first 3 blog owners who post a comment on this entry [please leave your email address if I don't all ready have it].

In turn you will then post about this on your blog, link to me, then send something to the first three people who sign up to play along through your blog.
There are no cost restraints, BUT don't go crazy! The little something you send can be something you made, bought, were given or found.

No biggie, just a gift that will make the person smile.
Maybe something unique from where you live?
And, remember kindness doesn't have to involve money; there are untold ways to help others every single day, everywhere you go - just look around."

Part II: Sixth Photo Meme

I am also late on the Sixth Photo Meme. I really have no excuse for this one, save that I generally categorize my photos so much that it wouldn't be fair for me to choose the 6th photo from say, my Monochrome Monday file or my True Colours Thursday file. However, the thought occurred to me last night that I could just take the 6th photo from my camera's memory stick. So once again, I'm late for this one too!

Once again, this is the sixth photo in my digital camera's memory stick. I know it's an odd picture, but then, I suppose that's the point of this meme. This picture was taken near Holbrook, AZ in October of this year. My mom and I traveled to Arizona for a writing conference, but decided to get out there early and make a miniature vacation of it. We had previously ridden the Verde Canyon Railroad; visited the Out of Africa Wildlife Park; seen the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, and Petrified Forest; and were on our way to Scottsdale, where the conference would be held the next day. This was the gas station we stopped at before heading through a long patch with few gas stations through the Mazatzal Mountains. I was intrigued by the old-fashioned looking painted sign (this is one thing that really attracts me to the Southwest--some areas near old Route 66 don't look as modernized as other parts of the country). However, in this shot, I was actually trying to get a picture of the hills/desert stuff in the background. Unfortunately, there was some traffic on the highway, and Interstate 40 passed overhead as well (though not in focus, you can see the interchange sign showing the Albuquerque ramp to the right and the ramp for Flagstaff ahead). This made for some difficulty while I was trying to get a picture, and this is what I ended up with.

Part III: Another tale of being late...

Regarding the rest of my Sunday Scribblings post, if anyone has had the courage to actually read all of this (I apologize for the long post, but as I'm basically doing three posts in one, it's bound to be a little long), I was also late to my grandma's for lunch today. The power went out at our house last night, so the microwave clock (which I generally rely on for the time) said 0. My watch keeps itself wound a little with use, but since I hadn't worn it for a couple of days, it had lost some time. Long story short, I thought I would be getting to my grandma's house at 12:15, but it was closer to 12:30 when I arrived! Both my grandma and my mom had tried calling me just as I was pulling into Grandma's drive. Then I was humiliated seeing my cousin's car and remembering that she and her brother had also come to lunch. And, being better grandchildren than I, had arrived on time.

Are those enough tales of lateness to satisfy this week's requirement?

P.S. For more Scribblings of late, visit Sunday Scribblings

Iced Inn

I didn't get out much yesterday. I got up at 7:30, took my photos for True Colours Thursday, posted them, picked up some clothes from the laundromat, went to my Granny's to pick up some packages I had delivered to her house, went to the Dollar General for a box of mac and cheese (and some junk food), and was in the rest of the evening. However, I had heard that the weather was supposed to get atrocious later that evening. Didn't look so bad to me when I was out in it.

I had settled down in the recliner, somewhat ensconsced (shameless plug for Word of the Day) in our broken recliner, with a lap cat purring gently beside me, and preparing to read the next few chapters of The Maltese Falcon. The great thing about being mostly unemployed and out of school is that you can take time to do all those things you wanted to do but never had the time for, like read The Maltese Falcon.

Things were just getting interesting. I was familiarizing myself with Sam Spade's character and getting wrapped up in the mystery surrounding Miles Archer's murder when Mom started asking me about her blog. She just joined Blogger this week, and is still getting accustomed to its navigation. Since I've had Blogger for nigh on to three years now, I forget how confusing blogging is to a newbie. Trying to be patient, I explained to her the code for creating links (though I had it written on a pink sticky note in the computer desk for her). I picked up my book again. She then asked me how to upload photos. This is nice--she posted her first True Colours Thursday, herself. And I do remember how difficult it was for me to figure out posting photos back in December of 2005. I actually had to ask RC to give me a hand at the time. I re-read the same sentence I'd been on for 15 minutes. Mom interrupted my reading again to ask about spacing. And then about how to preview the post. I set my book down until she had succesfully posted her photos.

Thinking it was again safe to try to read my book, I tried once again to re-read the same stuff that I'd been reading during each of my interruptions, when my phone rang. It was RC. I decided to answer it, though I was in peak minutes, because it was about 6:30 or so, and I knew she had 30-45 minutes of driving to get back home. If the weather had gotten nasty, she might have actually needed something. When I answered, she said she was annoyed.

This brought back memories of how my grandmother called me while annoyed earlier in the day as well, but that's another story.

So I asked RC what the problem was, and her response was freezing rain. Apparently, RC has a cousin, LH, who lives a few blocks from where RC works. RC had asked LH if she could stay over in case of bad weather. The cousin had agreed. However, when RC called her, LH informed her that she was going to a party with BW. This really cramped RC's style, because she would either have to find a way to kill three hours before LH got home from the party, or else she would have to stay alone with LH's husband, DH. RC didn't want to do either of these things, so she found herself getting a room at a Day's Inn.

This is where she called me.

I commiserated with RC for a while, and then I asked her about the condition of the room. No apparent signs of blood or other human fluids were found in her room. I reminded her to be grateful of that, because I'd had my share of nasty motel rooms, and they weren't at all pleasant.

RC decided to hang up for a while so she wouldn't waste all my minutes, and then went to Steak 'n Shake for supper. I suggested this to her, as her motel was only steps away from the restaurant, and they never close. She later called me back (during my period of free minutes) to tell me about the rest of her misadventures. Apparently, she was so flustered that she sat down at the nearest table, disregarding (actually, not seeing) the sign that asked patrons to wait to be seated by a hostess. Then, after eating, she stepped onto the sidewalk to go back to her room, and slipped on the ice. Fortunately, she didn't fall, but from the sound of things, she had several close calls with the ice that night.

As she was recounting all these details to me, RC said, "I bet you're going to put this down in your Blogspot." 'Now why didn't I not think of that?' (inside joke). Suddenly, I felt like David Sedaris. In a manner of speaking, of course. Not being Sedaris, I can't honestly attest to his feelings, but I do know that his family is afraid to say or do anything for fear that he will write about it in one of his books. Thus, I took this little phrase from RC as a compliment.

So, though she was iced "inn" at a Day's Inn, RC should have had a good night's sleep. Though LH came home from her party at a decent hour, at least in the motel room, RC had her own TV, and nobody was around to tell her to change the channel.

Oh yeah, and I just decided to save Sam Spade for another day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Red!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I am using a Christmas celebration theme.

This amaretto was actually purchased so I could make some chocolate amaretto fudge, but it looks festive posing near the cordial glasses that came with it.

This is the gift bag that RC gave me for Christmas. I like the dog (is this a Shih-Tzu?). Anyway, I thought it was cute.

And this is my gift bag from SC. I thought it was really pretty as well. It was kind of cool to get a head-start on gifts from these girls!

I would generally direct your attention to the creator of this meme, Blue, but as she's sick this week, True Colours Thursday is temporarily being hosted by BJ. Get well soon, Blue!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charlie Farley

I suppose this is as good a time as any to recount this story...

I think I was probably 12. It was Christmastime, and we were going through the same routine we always did at the end of the Christmas church service--picking up our brown bag of an apple or orange, bag of popcorn, and assorted candies. I didn't like popcorn at the time, wasn't a big fan of fresh fruit, and hated hard candy. Wasn't I a stinker? Anyway, my mom and I smiled and took our bags and headed home to prepare for other Christmas celebrations. We were driving around the square (about where the gazebo is, BJ), when my mom started spoonerizing words. She had just picked up this annoying habit, and was not as adept at it as she fancied herself.

I reluctantly opened a piece of Farley brand hard candy and popped it into my mouth, when my mother exclaimed with gusto, Well, f*** Charlie!"

The way she said it, Mom appeared to have a severe case of Tourette's syndrome. But that was not the case. In actuality, she thought it would be cute to spoonerize the name "Chuck Farley," which was an inside joke of its own...

Once when I was quite small, we had gone on vacation to Rapid City, South Dakota. Along the way, we passed a camper or RV or something that had the following painted on its side:

The Farley's: Chuck and Betty

So then, my dad started acting like he really knew these people, even though they were just random strangers on the highway. Hey, it gets boring in the Dakotas if you're not careful--have to find something to do to pass the time. Then my uncle's girlfriend, who accompanied us on the trip, started playing along. It was driving my uncle crazy because he couldn't figure out how his girlfriend and his brother happened to know a couple that he didn't.

Years later, whenever somebody would say something about Farley candy, my parents would chime in with some anecdote about Chuck and Betty Farley and their adventures. Even though it was totally fictional.

Fast forward back to my mom and me in the car, going around the courthouse square. Time had stood still while all this was transpiring. My mom slowly realized what she said (and believe me, my mom is not one for profanity). I couldn't believe she'd just said that, either, and we both laughed nonstop for 10 miles. I decided to spit out my Farley candy so I wouldn't choke. Eh, I didn't really want it anyway.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good Little Girls...

Last night was RC's work Christmas party. And yeah, it was held at a bar. So I'm surprised that CC and BC actually allowed the girls to go. I'm actually kind of surprised that RC invited me to come along, too.

I picked up SC in a discount-store parking lot and took her to the mall behind the bar. RC called to say she was on her way. That was a good sign. A few minutes later, RC pulled into the mall parking lot, and I noticed that her car was winking at me. I asked SC, "is her headlight burnt out?" Suddenly I had flashbacks of my own encounters with burned out bulbs and hoped RC didn't get stopped. I especially didn't want her to get a ticket. We all kind of figured we'd cross that bridge later, as in after the party.

Anyway, so we walked in and sat down in the regular bar part, and when some waitress came by to take our order, RC said, "Oh I'm with the nursing home Christmas party." The girl showed us to the back room.

I figured that the back room would be hopping. Instead, I found it full of middle-aged nursing home/day care employees who just looked like they were tired and really didn't want to be there. RC ran off to say hi to some of her friends, leaving SC and me behind at the entrance to the back room. I felt as though all conversations came to a screetching halt when SC and I walked into the room. I don't know if they all thought we were underage or if they viewed us as outsiders. It was as this moment that I wondered if RC had just made up the part about guests being allowed. Well, it was too late to turn back, so I tried to just follow her. The Christmas party bouncer didn't recognize us, so he called RC back to verify that I was actually allowed there (i.e. to pay for our admission, which I lovingly refer to as a cover charge). Thank you again, RC!

So, being a vegetarian, I had a plateful of chips and nacho cheese dip (rock on). However, RC and SC are carnivores, so they added taco meat to theirs. This will be important later.

We wandered around, trying to find a place to sit. It seemed as though there were always only one or two available seats together, and we really wanted to sit together. We would have gotten to the party earlier (like, perhaps when it started), except that, ironically, RC had to work until 6:00, so we got there about an hour and a half after the party had actually begun. Anyway, there was a lady (I still don't know her name) who said if we pulled up another barstool we could squeeze around the corner of the table she was sitting at. I'm sure she was trying to talk to me, but I have terrible hearing, so the best I could do was avoid eye contact and smile if I accidentally made eye contact with her or any of the other employees.

At some point, a karaoke book magically appeared at our table near me. I started looking at it while the employees were exchanging gifts. Side note: they really were exchanging too--each employee grabbed a gift and formed a large circle. A woman in the middle of the circle began reading a modified version of "The Night Before Christmas." The modifications mainly involved the insertion of the words "left" and "right," indicating the direction that the employees were to pass their gifts. RC wound up with a blanket. Not a bad gift for a chilly December, I'd say.

Finally, I got tired of waiting on karaoke. Not that I didn't enjoy the overwhelming number of AC/DC songs that the DJ was blaring, but I didn't want to be there all night. When I found out that there was going to be karaoke, I wanted to get my name in early so we could perhaps get out of there at a decent hour. I would have to take SC back to her car and then drive another 30+ minutes to get home.

RC and I found some songs we wanted to sing. I started with two, and she picked out three or four. I was kind of surprised because RC had never sung karaoke before, and I've never known sober first-time karaokers to be that enthuastic. I hopped off my barstool to take my songs up to the DJ--same old drill wherever you go, it seems. But RC was firmly planted in her barstool. She was going to chicken out. After an embarrassing amount of begging and pulling, I convinced RC to go up there with me. I thought we were just going to get a rotation started. Nope! The DJ was ready to hear some live music. So I opened up karaoke last night with...

"This thing, called love, well I just can't handle it..."

The crowd was not yet drunk, but they were still cheering me on, and I even lured a few folks onto the dance floor. This was a great start. Then RC followed with...

"Now the world don't move to the beat of just one drum..."

Yep. RC's first attempt at karaoke was the Diff'rent Strokes theme song. That girl's got guts! Then I followed up with, "Casey Jones," which somehow wasn't that much of a hit with the crowd. Darn it. I should have invited Robin who is the only other person I know who likes the Grateful Dead. Then I sat down for a while.

Somehow, I got the idea to start trying songs that I like, but have never karaoked before. I wound up singing "It Never Rains in Southern California" and botched the second verse. I did "Sunshine" by Johnathon Edwards. I am surprised that one turned out as well as it did. "Subterranean Homesick Blues" (which wasn't a new song for me) didn't score many points for me. After ripping through that insanely fast song, I had to go to the bar and down a Mountain Dew. Why don't these people like Dylan?

I took a break from karaoke after that, but RC was still going strong. She pulled out "Jackie Blue," by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and "Folsom Prison Blues" and "I Walk the Line" by the Man in Black. How she did it, I'll never know. You have to have a better range than a keyboard to hit the high notes in "Jackie Blue" and then turn around and try to sing like Cash. When she pulled out Three Dog Night's "Joy to the World," I was truly shocked. I thought she was going to do the Christmas one. After all, it was a Christmas party. But nope, she surprised me, and she totally rocked the house with it! She also kicked butt with Brewer and Shipley's "One Toke Over the Line," and then finished her night, appropriately, with the Cheers theme song.

My last two songs were both by The Band. I tried my hand at "The Weight" and "Up on Cripple Creek." Most of the people had gone home by that point, and the ones that still lingered (minus R & SC) were too drunk to really care, so we decided it was time to get going. Also, it was about 10:40 at the time, and I still had to drive about 15 minutes across town to leave SC at her car and then take another 30-45 to get home. And for some crazy reason this party was on a Thursday night?!

Anyway, RC called me to let me know that she made it home okay, despite the one headlight (somehow the Wallflowers song has been in my head much of the day... hmm). She got it fixed this morning. Oh yeah, I get pulled over for a burned out license plate bulb, and she drives for like 45 minutes on one headlight and gets away with it. But... she got a little sick from the taco meat. See? Being a vegetarian isn't such as bad thing after all... ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

True Colours Thursday--White!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I chose a Christmas theme (surprise, surprise), but I limited myself to decorations found on our Christmas tree.

It may look a little blurry, but I think that's because this is a 3-D ornament.

This is a glittery snowflake ornament.

And, last but not least, the white plastic horn.

True Colours Thursday is the creation of my friend Blue

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Card from Blue!

I got my Christmas card from Blue on Monday! I was in a crazy fudge-making mode on Monday and Tuesday, so I didn't get my photo uploaded then, but I have a picture of it up today. Thanks, Blue!!!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monochrome Monday--Old Granary

Visit Aileni for more black and white/sepia shots!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sunday Scribblings--Tradition

I'm not a big fan of traditions. My family doesn't seem to have very many (well, we did just initiate the mandatory potluck soup supper garage party a few years ago, but that's not particularly sentimental). One Christmas tradition I actually don't mind is watching the 1951 Christmas Carol movie. Actually, I believe the movie is called Scrooge. I'm always impressed by older movies that don't lose their luster with time.

Another Christmastime favorite of mine is It's a Wonderful Life. I think lots of people probably feel as hopeless as George Bailey on Christmas Eve. Especially those who have to cook big meals (refer back to the previous paragraph about the soup potluck). Shopping and holiday "cheer" can get the better of us, and that's probably why I get such a kick out of this overly sentimentalized movie that, according to my nature, I shouldn't even like.

I guess some traditions are okay. But you won't find me fooling around with any Yule log or hanging wreaths or anything like that. Oh, and one last note: a tradition I wish my family would adopt is wrapping my gifts in old newspaper. Since I have this aversion to tearing "pretty paper," and since I'm frugal about such things, I'd prefer to reuse the newspaper and then recycle it, rather than pay money for wrapping paper that just gets tossed in a landfill. But, just as I don't have a problem with other people eating meat, I don't have a problem with others buying and using wrapping paper :)

For more traditional scribblings, click here

Thursday, December 04, 2008

True Colours Thursday--Yellow!

For this week's True Colours Thursday, I picked a cooking theme.

These three yellow ingredients each play an important role in my favorite cheesy potato soup. For several years, I've made this soup for my grandma's Christmas party. I also have to make several batches for myself throughout the fall and winter months.

Mmm... love that processed cheese!

Salty and unhealthy, but it works wonders in flavoring my soup.

I don't know if this one counts as yellow, but it's a Yukon Gold potato--one of the most important ingredients in my favorite soup!

True Colours Thursday is the brain child of friend Blue

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Movie Review--Seven

Okay, ladies and gents, it's the moment you've all been waiting for... I've put it off long enough, and now it's time to review Seven.

I loved Seven. I hated Brad Pitt's character through most of the movie, but I'm okay with that. I was happy with him at the end... kinda. Morgan Freeman's character was probably my favorite (there's a place where his character actually bursts out laughing--one of my favorite parts of the whole movie because for once, he's not being so doggone serious).

The premise: Serial killer flick meets the Seven Deadly Sins. You can tell me what you think. I say it was suspenseful, perfectly paced, and well-written. Like any movie you see, there were parts that seemed contrived (but then, my vice is looking for contrivances in books, movies, TV, etc.).

There are places that may raise your blood pressure. Heck, you might want to scream at some of the characters at times. But that's okay. That's what we want in a movie. As writers, we want our audience to relate to the characters we create, and I think we grow very attached to the characters in Seven. They are well-rounded, not stereotypes (that kind of characterization scores BIG with Sunshine Jones), and we actually care about them, which makes the movie worth watching.

So, if you like movies about serial killers and/or movies about Church doctrine relating to literature of the Middle Ages, definitely give Seven a look.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Lady Chadwick's Soiree

On my other blog, Word of the Day, I started a crazy trend. I should begin by explaining that on Word of the Day I take dictionary.com's word of the day and use it in a sentence or two as a vocabulary-building exercise. One day the word was "soiree," and I came up with a silly sentence, and some of my readers joined in until we had a little story. I thank everyone who played along, either with the Lady Chadwick story or with sentences of their own. I especially give props to Alisa, who came up with the name Lady Chadwick. I decided to take all of November's words (or a form of them) and combine them into one story. I've linked each of the words to its own entry for Word of the Day, so you can read the original post and comments for each word (side note: I invite anyone who wants to join in to post a comment using the daily words--it's really a lot of fun, guys!) Additionally, each Word of the Day post should have a link to dictionary.com's definition, which includes a pronunciation service. I tried to create original sentences for this one, so hopefully I didn't rehash an older sentence by accident. Enjoy!

Lady Chadwick's Soiree
It all started one day when I received an invitation to Lady Chadwick’s soiree. I was addled, thinking this guerdon must have been sent in error. Lady Chadwick is such a powerful aristocrat—everyone knows she is the eminence grise behind her husband, Lord Chadwick.

I envisioned Lady Chadwick ensconced in her resplendent gown. Such a beautiful nabob—it is unfortunate that the one flaw that adulterates her beauty is an aquiline nose. The nose, I’m certain, is the one factor that has kept Lord Chadwick from expressing his amatory affection toward his wife in public.

Having never been to a soiree before, I strolled into the party with a smooth cadence. The Chadwick escutcheon loomed impressively before me. The epicure in me recognized scents of wonderment to the olfactory system wafting from the kitchen into the dining area. What a Lucullan feast!

I took a seat near BJ and Alisa. We were admiring Lady Chadwick’s eminent figure as she leaned on the balustrade, smiling on her beloved guests. Alisa was explaining that according to her sidereal astrology, people like me did not generally appear at such grand parties. I couldn’t understand what she meant.

Suddenly, the merriment abated. Someone noticed that I was wearing a red hoodie and blue jeans. Horripilation formed on my freshly-lotioned arms. “Reprobate!” Lady Chadwick boomed. Reprobate was the mot juste for the occasion, it seemed.

“But I wore the special emollient you sent me, Lady Chadwick,” I protested, intimating that I had done nothing wrong. Though I tried to adduce evidence of my innocence, insisting that my removal was based on footless claims, looking back I realized that my choice of attire was a bit frowzy.
I see now that my affectations toward the upper crust citizens had gotten me nowhere. My presence at the soiree was nothing but an unwanted incursion. I paid my last respects to my high society life with proper obsequies. Wearing my jeans and red hoodie, I picked up what was left of my pride, and became a writer.

Monochrome Monday--Snowy Tree With Fence

I thought a nice snowy tree would be appropriate for the first day of December.

For more B&W/sepia shots, visit Monochrome Maniacs.